Local knowledge in Sea Grant’s future

Matt Bethel, Louisiana Sea Grant, and Raymond Paddock III, Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, model the visioning process.

Alaska Sea Grant’s Davin Holen, and Matt Bethel of Louisiana Sea Grant, are leading a search for the best ways to include local and traditional knowledge in Sea Grant work over the next 10 years. They hosted a workshop in Juneau last month to launch the local knowledge visioning effort, with representatives from 10 Sea Grant programs and several tribal organizations.

National Sea Grant has a number of network visioning working groups in 2018, to address climate and weather, fisheries and seafood, diversity, equity and inclusion among other topics. The visioning is modeled after a successful aquaculture initiative, which led to a Sea Grant effort to build the aquaculture and mariculture economy nationwide.

The Juneau workshop brought representatives of Sea Grant programs from Guam to the Great Lakes to Maine and Louisiana. Local partners included environmental activist Noah Idechong from Palau and representatives of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in Washington, the Chumash Band in California, the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe of Louisiana, and the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes.

The workshop group at the KTOO building in Juneau.

Alaska Lt. Governor Byron Mallott helped set the tone for the workshop by discussing the climate change initiatives led by the Governor’s office.

“His eloquent speech reminded the participants about the importance of traditional knowledge in understanding changes impacting indigenous peoples worldwide,” said Holen.

To highlight the local knowledge component of the Juneau School District, Marilyn Sigman led a panel of educators in a discussion of the Alaska Seas and Watersheds curriculum and the history of Alaska Sea Week and environmental education. Sigman is Alaska Sea Grant’s marine education specialist.

The last task for participants was to craft a visioning statement and goals for the group. Holen, Bethel and several representatives will continue the conversation at a workshop in Cocodrie, Louisiana, in April.